With every team having played at least one conference game, Big Ten football is in full swing. This weekend, there’s the league’s highest-ranked team, Penn State, hosting Indiana in primetime. There’s a Friday night clash of unbeatens as Iowa travels to upstart Maryland. And, of course, there’s Michigan, sitting at 4-0 facing its first road test at Wisconsin.
What better way to enjoy it all than by maybe making a little bit of money? Each week, we at MnB go through the Big Ten slate and give you the best bets from each game. These are for entertainment purposes only, of course.
All times for games listed are Eastern. Odds as listed on FanDuel.
No. 5 Iowa (-3.5) at Maryland, O/U 47.5 — 8 p.m., FS1
ESPN SP+ Projection: Maryland 25-21, 59 percent win probability
The Hawkeyes are 4-0, yes, but the two best teams they’ve beaten (Indiana, Iowa State) have underperformed so far. This is a team that struggled to put away Colorado State last week and is averaging less than 300 yards of offense.
Meanwhile, you have the Terrapins (4-0), who have had fast starts in recent years only to prove fool’s gold shortly thereafter. But Maryland has real playmakers in wide receivers Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett, both of whom are averaging over 15 yards per reception, as well as tailback Tayon Fleet-Davis (7.1 yards per carry). In addition, Taulia Tagovailoa (1,340 yards, 75.5 completion percentage) has been the best quarterback in the Big Ten so far.
Maryland can strike quickly on offense, and Iowa’s grind-it-out style won’t be well-suited for a comeback if the Terps take control early. In front of a home crowd and national TV audience on a Friday night, this is Maryland’s chance to show everyone it’s for real.
Pick: Maryland +3.5
No. 14 Michigan at Wisconsin (-1.5), O/U 43.5 — 12 p.m., FOX
ESPN SP+ Projection: Michigan 24-23, 52 percent win probability
Here are some numbers — Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz has completed 54-of-96 passes for 566 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions. Michigan runs the ball on nearly 75 percent of its plays from scrimmage, and Wisconsin is allowing an average of 23 rushing yards per game. The Wolverines gained just 29 yards and two first downs in the second half against Rutgers. Yes, last week’s Wisconsin-Notre Dame game went over, but three of the Fighting Irish’s touchdowns came on defense and special teams. Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings have this game producing 47 points. I just have no idea where they’re supposed to come from.
Pick: Under 43.5
Minnesota at Purdue (-2.5), O/U 47.5 — 12 p.m., BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Purdue 28-27, 53 percent win probability
The Golden Gophers lost at home to Bowling Green last week. Really, that’s all that needs to be said. Just in case you’re not convinced, Purdue is averaging 314 passing yards per game between Jack Plummer and Aidan O’Connell — nearly three times Tanner Morgan’s output for Minnesota.
Pick: Purdue -2.5
Charlotte at Illinois (-11.5), O/U 53.5 — 12 p.m., BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Illinois 35-27, 68 percent win probability
Bret Bielema’s Fighting Illini are limping into this one, having lost four straight games after a season-opening win over Nebraska. That being said, the last two weeks have been an improvement: after losing at home to UTSA and being curb stomped at Virginia, they lost to Maryland and Purdue by a combined seven points.
The 49ers are 3-1 and already have a Power 5 win under their belts, having beaten Duke 31-28 in their season-opener, so they won’t be intimidated heading into Champaign. Chris Reynolds, a four-year starter at quarterback for Charlotte, has thrown for 924 yards with nine touchdowns to just two picks, while Grant Dubose and Victor Tucker have combined for 608 receiving yards while both averaging over 15 yards per catch. They may not win, but they’ll give Illinois a battle.
Pick: Charlotte +11.5
No. 11 Ohio State (-15.5) at Rutgers, O/U 58.0 — 3:30 p.m., BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Ohio State 36-21, 81 percent win probability
The Scarlet Knights played well against Michigan, but I remain unconvinced. Michigan insisted on running the ball into stacked boxes throughout the second half. I don’t expect Ohio State, which is averaging 337 yards through the air, to do the same, no matter if it’s C.J. Stroud or Kyle McCord at quarterback. Offense has never been the Buckeyes’ problem.
Pick: Ohio State -15.5
Indiana at No. 4 Penn State (-12.5), O/U 53.5 — 7:30 p.m., ABC
ESPN SP+ Projection: Penn State 36-15, 88 percent win probability
I still have concerns about Penn State, even after its 4-0 start. The Nittany Lions’ offense is still somewhat big-play dependent, and they’ve rushed for 80 yards or less in three of its four games so far. But Sean Clifford looks more accurate (71.7 completion percentage) and poised than he’s ever been, and he’s got both Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington to throw to. I don’t see Indiana keeping up.
Pick: Penn State -12.5
Northwestern at Nebraska (-11.5), O/U 51.5 — 7:30 p.m., BTN
ESPN SP+ Projection: Nebraska 30-17, 77 percent win probability
Nebraska is a good football team. Bad football teams don’t go into Norman and play the Sooners within a touchdown, nor do they outgain a top 25 team by nearly 200 yards on the road and hold them without a first down in the second half. The Huskers have a fourth-year starting quarterback, Adrian Martinez, playing the best football of his career, averaging 323 yards of total offense. They’re averaging 473 yards on offense and holding teams to just 328 yards and 17.2 points per game.
But the Huskers make too many little mistakes, ones that shouldn’t be happening in Scott Frost’s fourth year. Their offensive line committed six penalties against Oklahoma, while Connor Culp missed two field goals and had a blocked extra point taken back for a two-point score. Against Michigan State, they averaged just 32 yards per punt, allowed a punt-return touchdown and gave up seven sacks.
Nebraska is probably two touchdowns better than Northwestern, but I’m just not confident they can stay out of their own way for 60 minutes. This is the toughest game for me to pick this week.
Pick: Under 51.5
Western Kentucky at No. 17 Michigan State (-11.5), O/U 63.5 — 7:30 p.m., FS1
ESPN SP+ Projection: Michigan State 34-17, 84 percent chance of winning
The Hilltoppers have a potent offense and average 41 points per game, and went blow-for-blow with Indiana last week. Bailey Zappe is averaging 408 yards per game through the air, and the Spartans’ passing defense is their weak point on defense. They allowed Northwestern quarterback Hunter Johnson have far and away the best game of his career in their season-opener.
I don’t see Western Kentucky having any response for Kenneth Walker III on the ground, but the Hilltoppers certainly are capable of moving the ball on the Spartans.
Pick: Over 63.5